The Frank Holme Chronicles no. 3—Never Idle: The Tragically Short but Jam-Packed Life of Frank Holme (Chicago, November 16, 2023)

On November 16, 2023 I gave a talk on the life of Frank Holme (1868–1904) at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Art (formerly the Palette and Chisel Club) in Chicago entitled Never Idle: The Tragically Short but Jam-Packed Life of Frank Holme. The talk was co-sponsored by The Caxton Club. The location was chosen because Holme was an integral member of the Palette and Chisel Club in the early years of its existence, when it is was still located on the seventh floor of the Athenaeum Building on Van Buren Street off of Michigan Avenue.

Frank Holme seated in front of the Salon de Refuse exhibition at the Palette and Chisel Club in 1898. Image courtesy of the Palette and Chisel Academy of Art and the Newberry Library.

Holme was a newspaper artist from the age of eighteen until he contracted tuberculosis at the age of thirty-one. (Two examples of his work are reproduced below.) He is primarily remembered today for three things: 1. illustrating the aftermath of the devastating 1889 Johnstown flood; 2. copiously chronicling the murder trial of Chicago sausage baron Adolph Luetgert in 1897 and 1898; and 3. as the founder of the School of Illustration in Chicago (1898–c.1905). The faculty of the latter included J.C. Leyendecker, F.X. Leyendecker, William Carqueville, John T. McCutcheon, and Frederic W. Goudy; and among the students were Oswald Cooper and W.A. Dwiggins. My interest in Holme is an outgrowth of my detailed research into the life and work of Dwiggins.

My talk for the Palette and Chisel Academy of Art and The Caxton Club is the third I have given on Holme, and the second since I began transcribing his diaries in 2020. Each talk has gone further in trying to flesh out the details of Holme’s short life and to clear away many of the myths that have been promulgated by authors of older articles about him.

“Homeless Men Seeking Refuge from the Cold at the Harrison Street Police Station” (The Chicago Chronicle, 25 January 1897). Illustration by Frank Holme.

“Senatorial Candidates Attracted by State Central Committee Meeting” (The Chicago Chronicle, 18 December 1896). (William E. Mason is at center.) Illustration by Frank Holme.  

 


I want to thank Stuart Fullerton and William J. Ewers of the Palette and Chisel Academy of Art and Jackie Vossler of The Caxton Club for making my talk in Chicago and the YouTube video of it possible.